Monday, April 16, 2007

Minnesota: HIV/AIDS amongst Hispanic males has increased from 8% of new cases in 2005 to 14% in 2006

Maura Lerner:

The number of new cases of HIV or AIDS infection in Minnesota jumped to 318 in 2006, the largest increase in more than 10 years, according to the latest report by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Released today, the report also shows an "alarming increase" among Hispanic males, from 8 percent of new cases in 2005 to 14 percent last year, according to the Minnesota AIDS Project.

But health officials say they can't be sure if these are one-year blips, or part of a trend.

"It is higher than it has been in the past," said Luisa Pessoa-Brandao, the HIV-AIDS surveillance coordinator for the state health department. However, she said, "the numbers fluctuate quite a bit, and they've been around 300 for the last few years."

The last time Minnesota reported more new HIV infections in a single year was in 1995, when 343 cases were reported.

One group that has shown a steady increase in HIV infection is teenage boys and young men, Pessoa-Brandao said. Last year, they accounted for 16 percent of new infections. "We have seen a steady increase over the last four years," she said. "That is something we are watching and concerned about."

Lorraine Teel, head of the Minnesota AIDS Project, said the new report shows that "HIV continues to be a serious health threat for gay and bisexual men, reinforcing the need for targeted prevention efforts." Gay or bisexual men accounted for 64 percent of the new cases.

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